“Heavy” by Kevin Corrado (Or Photography Meets Performance Art)
I love when portraiture meets the world of modern art. That is to say that I love it when a portrait is full of little details that would throw the viewer off kilter, or at least as the question “where did this come from”? From the photographer's perspective, it's really fun to throw puzzling scenes and thought provoking context at your viewer. From the viewer's perspective, such portraiture always seems more like art than a traditional portrait, and it is therefore much more fun and interesting to view. We often see such a mash-up of mediums in the fashion photography world, but it doesn't need to be limited to that corner of the photography landscape. It belongs anywhere anyone is so daring. And that is where I would like to introduce you to the work of Kevin Corrado; specifically a piece titled Heavy (shown here).
Normally I like to speak about composition and treatment of a photograph, but I think that would glance over the largest contributing factor towards the success of Heavy, and that is simply Kevin's process behind the photograph. By looking at such a photo, it would be impossible to determine if the photograph was fully planned or whether it was taking advantage of an existing condition. But I don't think that matters, because there was at least some planning involved in either case. It's just a matter of how much and which elements are planned. On one hand, Kevin may have had a vision to have a clearing filled with a bunch of bricks and he made it so. That would either require a lot of elbow grease to set the scene, or this is just a very well done Photoshop piece requiring hours and hours of skilled work (but I don't think that's the case). On the other hand, this scene could have been presented to Kevin much as it is in the shot, and Kevin just chose to take advantage of the setting in the manner shown here. Such a scenario would still require planning, just a different kind. The scene would have been surveyed to determine the best angles, he'd need to place the subject, pose the subject and set a mood through the framing and treatment of the shot. I've glanced over the details, but I can assure you that even what seems like minimal planning would still be quite involved. And I'm sure for this finished product, there are at least a half dozen iterations on the cutting room floor. Not to mention that this is a self portrait, so it requires even more tinkering with trial and error.
So what is the finished product? And what is the feeling portrayed by the portrait? I'm sure there are a number of interpretations, but the mood is not a light one, nor are we left with a warm fuzzy feeling. But that's where I think this crosses into performance art. There is clearly an emotion that Kevin is trying to spark here, and he's used the setting, the subject and the post processing to tell that story. Would this photograph portray the same emotions if it were shot on a crystal clear day with bright colors and a deep depth of field? What if we could see the face and read the facial expressions? The results and the emotion would be very different. But therein is the power and beauty of mashing portraiture with performance art. And you can follow in Kevin's footsteps, or those who walked before him, by experimenting with such chaotic and abstract scenes. I would encourage you to experiment with such emotive portraiture…you will learn a great deal about yourself as an artist.
Today, we merely focused on one aspect of Kevin Corrado's work. If you were to browse his photostream, you would find that most of his portraiture work is as emotive and as influenced by the performing arts world. Needless to say, you should be inspired to experiment with emotive portraiture yourself. But I don't want to neglect the rest of Kevin's work, as he is a talented photographer in the world of landscape and architectural photography as well – from the natural to the surreal (though it's his surreal works that will inspire you the most). In short, you'd do well to follow Kevin and his work. You won't regret it. Kevin's work can also be found on 500px.